Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Recognizes COVID-19 as Presumed Occupational Disease For Frontline Workers

The Minnesota workers’ compensation system has long recognized “occupational disease” as a claim covered by workers’ compensation when an employee contracts an illness or disease on the job. However, the employee is required to prove they contracted the illness or disease at work and not somewhere else. Such worker’s compensation claims can be difficult to prove if the worker may have also been exposed or possibly contracted the illness outside of work.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota recently enacted a new law regarding an occupational disease presumption for certain employees who contract COVID-19—particularly first responders (police officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs), corrections officers, selected healthcare workers engaged in direct COVID-19 patient care or contact, and childcare providers who care for children of those same individuals.

The new law creates a presumption that those workers who test positive for COVID-19 in fact contracted the disease at work (without any duty to prove direct exposure at work), and have a valid workers’ compensation claim for their injury. To defeat such a claim by the worker, the burden is placed upon the employer and its insurance company to prove that the COVID-19 illness was contracted somewhere other than the workplace. The new law requires either proof of a positive test result for COVID-19, or documentation of diagnosis based on symptoms by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse to establish a valid workers’ compensation claim for these workers.

This bill was signed by Governor Walz on April 7, 2020 and became effective for first responder and healthcare employees who contract COVID-19 on or after April 8, 2020. The law sunsets on May 1, 2021.

Learn more about Minnesota's Workers’ Compensation coverage for employees who contract COVID-19.

New Law FAQs


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